Providing more ammunition to the Left ahead of its crucial meeting with the UPA scheduled for Wednesday, three top nuclear scientists have reiterated their concern over the India-US nuclear deal and urged the government not to seek IAEA board approval for the current draft safeguards agreement.
The scientists, including former Atomic Energy Commission chairman Dr P.K. Iyengar, have warned the government that the proposed nuclear cooperation agreement could have “serious repercussions” including a potential weakening of India’s nuclear deterrent and disruption of the indigenous nuclear R&D programme.
“The government is about to rush the safeguards agreement to the IAEA without giving its details even to their own UPA-Left Committee created for joint evaluation of the deal. There is a great deal of disquiet within the scientific committee,” they said on Tuesday.
Aside from Iyengar, former Atomic Energy Regulatory Board chairman Dr A Gopalakrishnan and former Bhabha Atomic Research Centre director Dr A.N. Prasad have objected to the nuclear deal.
The three scientists said the implications of the deal should be debated extensively within the country “or at least within the UPA-Left Committee as well as a group of experts who were not party to the IAEA negotiations.”
They have debunked the argument that the proposed deal would be governed by the bilateral 123 agreement as the pact is anchored in US domestic laws including the Hyde Act. “The Act contains several stipulations which are extraneous to bilateral nuclear cooperation, including foreign policy behaviour that India needs to adhere to if the deal is to be kept alive,” the scientists warned.
The scientists said the urgency to rush to the IAEA Board in consonance with the American timetable to get the safeguards agreement approved and then clinch the deal during the tenures of the governments in India and the US “must be replaced with an openness and introspection that is vital for a serious debate which the situation demands.”
They claimed that no uninterrupted fuel supplies had been guaranteed for reactors that India would place under the IAEA safeguards agreement. The scientists said the nation would like to know about the provisions for corrective measures in the safeguards agreement before plunging headlong into this deal.